Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Does Your Relationship Pass an Easy Test?

posted by Linda Mintle

Years ago, martial researcher, John Gottman, discovered an easy marker for healthy relationships. It can provide you a quick assessment on how well you are doing with your partner.

The “test” is called the five-to-one rule. If it is operating in your relationship, then you are probably a stable couple. It not, you could be in trouble.

The five-to-one rule states that for every negative interaction during a conflict, there are five positive ones to counteract the negative. Couples who evidenced this 5:1 ratio of positive to negative were less likely to divorce then couples who had an 8:1 ratio. For example, Tim and Sheila argued over a parenting issue. Tim criticized his wife during the conflict, but there were five positive statements to counterbalance the criticism. Because of this positive to negative ratio (5 to 1), Tim and his wife’s relationship remain stable and conflict doesn’t escalate to a negative point. Couples who do not have this positive affect during conflict were more likely to divorce.

So imagine a researcher standing over your shoulder and counting the number of positives to negatives during your couple interactions. Would you pass the test?

 

For more help on divorce proofing your marriage, I Married You, Not Your Family and nine other relationship myths by Dr. Linda Mintle

5 Tips When Seeking Relationship Help

posted by Linda Mintle

Steve and Jan are growing apart. Their lack of connection is impacting their children and they need help. They have talked about going to see a couple therapist, but are reluctant. Yet, research shows that couple therapy works.

Here are 5 tips to consider when needing relationship help:

1) Don’t wait too long to go get help. By the time, a couple finally decides to give couple work a try, they may have already decided to call it quits or are so ingrained in their negative patterns, that change will take much work. The sooner you get help, the better.

2) People who need it, don’t get it. Telling yourself that someone how things will magically work out is not a strategy. There is proven help for relationships. Why not access that help and save a marriage?

3) Those who do try couple therapy, try it for a short time, then declare it doesn’t work. It takes time to develop negative relationships patterns and time to undo them. Give the therapy a chance to work. Most changes are not easy and require practice and work. Your relationship and family are both worth it.

4) A therapist’s values towards marriage and divorce impact couple work. Therapists who have a positive versus neutral value on marriage commitment, influence outcome (Doherty, National Registry for Marriage Friendly Therapists). Find a therapist who has a positive commitment towards marriage.

5) Find the right therapist who is trained specifically in couple work. Some therapists who do couples work are not trained in it. A therapist may tell you that he or she does couple work, but you need to ask about training and credentials. Look for someone who is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) to know that he or she is properly trained.

If you need help to restore those positive feelings about your partner, to stop the fighting, to grow together instead of apart and renew the martial friendship, see someone now. The benefits are worth the time, expense and effort.

For relationship help, I Married You, Not Your Family by Dr. Linda Mintle

Anxiety: A Common Symptom You Need to Treat

posted by Linda Mintle

Yesterday I was talking on a national radio show about anxiety. We had call ins the entire hour. People wanted to know more about anxiety and how to treat it.

If you struggle with anxiety, you join 29% of the population that will have an anxiety disorder during their lifetime. Anxiety is also a presenting symptom 10% of the time people visit their physician and a much higher percent of complaints people bring to their doctors. So anxiety is prevalent and the basis of many physical and emotional issues. Anxiety is a symptom  with complexity.

It is that uneasy feeling, apprehension, feeling of danger, doom or misfortune. It can be debilitating or mild. Anxiety can spawn fear, worry, and stress.

Anxiety is generally caused by three factors:

1) Genetics: Some people are more prone to anxiety and it runs in families.

2) Epigenetic factors: This means that circumstances can pull the genetic trigger on anxiety–stress, health, environment, drugs, and other triggers that become activated. For example, abuse, abandonment and stressful issues of childhood can bring on anxiety. Current stress such as job loss, death of a spouse or divorce can pull the trigger.

3) Choices: This in the one factor over which you have the most control. For example, smoking raises anxiety, not taking care of yourself, making poor financial choices, etc.

If left untreated, anxiety can become one of the following disorders:

1) Simple phobia–the most common anxiety disorder is an excessive , persistent anxiety of specific objects

2) Social anxiety disorder--anxiety around social functioning

3) Generalized anxiety disorder--an overall feeling of being anxious that seems general

4) Obsessive-compulsive disorder--recurrent, unwanted thoughts and actions

5) Post traumatic stress disorder–re-experiencing thoughts, acute anxiety from a traumatic experience

6) Panic disorder–feelings of panic as if you will die or something terrible will happen to you

7) Adjustment reaction anxiety--anxiety related to an acute stressor

8) Anxiety secondary to a medical condition–medically induced

Specific therapies are recommended to treat anxiety as well as approved medications. If you struggle with anxiety, there is help and hope.

 

Click on this link for more about anti-anxiety medications:

Is it wrong to take anti-anxiety medications?

 

News Anchor Confronts the Stigma of Obesity

posted by Linda Mintle

This week, a television viewer wrote anchorwoman, Jennifer Livingston at WKBT-TV in LaCrosse Wisconsin, an email informing her that she was overweight. He went on to say that she is not an example for young people, and needed to promote and present a healthier lifestyle when it comes to her appearance. It was her community responsibility. The anchor responded with one of the best retorts I have heard in awhile. She acknowledged being “fat” and told the man to stop setting an example of bullying people for their weight.

America’s obese are subject to tremendous psychological burdens. Obesity may be a medical state, but people create the psychological burden associated with it. Often, the pain involves self-hatred that can lead to depression and anxiety, social isolation and alienation.

There is unbelievable social bias toward the obese. Obese people are stereotyped and often viewed as ugly, lazy, unwanted, unhealthy, weak-willed, uncontrolled, etc. If you are obese, you are less likely to marry and more likely to fall in social class. You are likely to be discriminated against concerning jobs, college entrance and be stereotyped by your physician. Basically you are stigmatized by an unsympathetic society; we’re “allowed” to discriminate against you. Fat jokes abound.  But what does it mean medically to be obese?

Obesity is an excess of body fat. Little agreement exists on just when body fat and weight become a health issue. (Opinions range anywhere from 5% to 30% above ideal weight.) And to make matters worse, a variety of tables are used to measure ideal weights.

Researchers use the body mass index (BMI) as a measure of body fat and health risk. BMI is weight in kilograms per height in meters. The National Center for Health Statistics defines overweight as a BMI of 27.3 in women and 27.8 in men. This is approximately 20% to 40% above ideal weight on the 1983 Metropolitan Life tables.

Most people classify obesity according to weight even though there are numerous medical, psychological, and behavioral variables involved. Obesity is referred to as a public health issue because of the associated medical complications leading to morbidity and mortality.

Obesity is not a psychological condition. It’s a medical condition that has multiple causes, consequences, and treatments. However, obesity can cause or be caused by psychosocial problems. So to ignore these issues is irresponsible.

Moreover, the stigma against obese people must be attacked. The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance is one advocacy group trying to do this. Other programs focus efforts on recognizing the stigma, preparing obese people to respond to it, and repairing the damage to self-esteem.

The next time you are tempted to make fun of someone obese, think about the incredible complexity of her condition and your role in reducing social stigma. You don’t know an obese person’s life story or unique medical make-up. You don’t know how much she may struggle to be accepted.  Stop judging and adding insult to injury. You could be part of the healing rather than the hurt if you exercise the unconditional love of God.

As Jennifer so rightly stated, we are all more than a number on a scale.

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